Posted on: February 1, 2023, 11:38h.
Last updated on: February 1, 2023, 11:38h.
LeBron James not only had a triple-double last night at Madison Square Garden (the 106th of his career) as he passed Mark Jackson and Steve Nash on the career assists list.
With the Lakers’ 129-123 overtime win, the team is now two games behind the sinking New Orleans Pelicans for 10th place in the West (a play-in spot). A late-season surge into the top 6 could lead to something unexpected: Putting LeBron in the MVP conversation.
Currently, Nikola Jokic is the (-105) favorite, followed by Joel Embiid (+230) and Luka Dončić (+550). James is the seventh choice at +4500 at FanDuel. But the odds elsewhere are as high as +10000.
Yesterday, he was +15000 at Bet MGM. Today, he is +50000. So consider that.
Nobody here is making that James-for-MVP prediction. But is must be discussed as a possibility, no matter how unlikely it seems on Feb 1.
— Spectrum SportsNet (@SpectrumSN) February 1, 2023
We mentioned Fan Duel, and here are LeBron’s MVP odds at sportsbooks that New Yorkers can play if they cross state lines:
- PointsBet: +4000.
- SuperBook: +4000
- Caesars: +4500
- Betway: +4500.
- DraftKings: +4500
- Borgata: +5000
- BetMGM: +5000.
- WynnBet: +5000
- Bet 365.com: +5000
- BetRivers: +10000
- Unibet: +10000
- Barstool: +10000.
That is a heck of a wide array of odds, and let’s face it: LeBron has not been in the conversation. But he has a ton of good will among voters because he is a cooperative vet who is now 38 years old, and currently is averaging more than 30 points for the second consecutive season. Prior to last season, he had not averaged 30 or more since his fifth NBA season, 2007-08.
Also — and this cannot be discounted — he is going to surpass Kareen Abdul-Jabbar for most career NBA points in the next couple of weeks.
And the media love him, those same media who are MVP voters. So remember, New York gamblers, these player award votes are only available out of state because of the language of NY gambling laws: Nothing voted on by humans is available in the Empire State.
LeBron’s Competition is Stiff
Let’s start with Jokic, who is the prohibitive favorite after averaging a triple-double in January: 24.0 points, 11.6 rebounds and 11.6 points. He did the same thing in January: 29.2 points, 12.2 rebounds and 10.1 assists. He had 13 triple-doubles over those two months. But Jokic is also trying to become the first player to win three consecutive MVPs since Larry Bird in 1984-86, and some voters may not be able to put him in that Hall of Fame company. It is simply human nature to protect Bird’s legacy more than it is an anti-Jokic sentiment.
Embiid destroyed Jokic on Sunday with a 47-point, 18-rebound performance, and he leads the league in scoring at 33.6 ppg after averaging 34.9 points in January. Also, he is more overdue for this award than any NBA player. That will loom large.
Giannnis Antetokounmpo (+1600) had games of 55, 50 and 41 in January, as the Bucks went 9-1 to move into second place in the East. Jayson Tatum of the Celtics is fourth in the NBA in scoring at 31.1 points per game, and then we have Luka Dončić, who scored 24 of his 53 points in the first quarter Monday in a win over Detroit. Four of Dončić’s five career 50-point games have come this season, and he dropped 60 on the Knicks Dec. 27. Ja Morant (+3200) is lurking, because Memphis is second in the West.
Tatum (+1300) is the best player in the team with the best record (36-15). That makes for a half-dozen solid arguments, not including LeBron. And every MVP ballot has only five spots, which will make for a glaring omission on each and every ballot if James puts himself in the race.
There are stats that can make a case, as we see here:
— cody (@codyharrisbmx) February 1, 2023
What About the Lakers Current Standing in the West?
This is too far-fetched for an 11th place team, no?
Yes, that is true. But where the Lakers stand on Feb. 1 and where they stand in mid-April are two different things. Rui Hachimura has supplanted Thomas Bryant in the starting lineup, and El Lay has three very winnable games coming up next: At Indiana, at New Orleans, and then home against Oklahoma City. They begin the day just four games behind the fourth place L.A. Clippers, and there is a lot of basketball left. And Anthony Davis is back.
James won the MVP award in 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2013, twice with Cleveland and twice with Miami. That was a decade ago, so he is overdue. He is not quite the athletic freak that Giannis is, nor is he the prolific scorer that Dončić is, nor the triple-double machine that Jokic is.
But voters are funny. They are not always predictable, and they often vote the narrative. If the narrative is LeBron leading the Lakers from 11th to sixth or better while breaking Abdul-Jabbar’s record, that is significant. Remember, Jokic won the award last season for a sixth-place Nuggets team. LeBron’s rebounds and assists are up, and he had four 40-point games in January along with a 47-point outing against Atlanta on his birthday, Dec. 30.
The oldest MVP in NBA history was Karl Malone at 35 in 1999.
So if you want to put this past the realm of possibility for James, do so at your own peril. The guy has changed minds before, including his own.
First of the season for the King pic.twitter.com/YCYzbg7Hgg
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) February 1, 2023
The first of many? That would only strengthen his case. And if that happens, those +10000 lines you see above will be a distant memory.
Remember, wagering futures markets requires you to look into the future, think like an awards voter, and look for the best value. Right now, a case can be made that LeBron James is going to work his way into the conversation. You want to doubt him? That is never really a good idea.
— Carlos González ✝️⚖🏀 (@carloselabuelo3) February 1, 2023
Imagine breaking the all time scoring record and not even being talked about for MVP. . We really doing @KingJames dirty. Smh
— Ducati Dario (@thatsDario) February 1, 2023
The chatter has begun.